Wayne King and his Grit Industries are back in the spotlight, this time for being in the running for Entrepreneur of the Year, a contest hosted by the accounting firm of Ernst and Young. As of July 25, King has already surpassed Round 1 of the competition in the oil and gas category.
“This award is quite prestigious,” said King, “there’s no doubt about it.”
About a year ago, Ernst and Young held a meeting in Lloydminster, explained King, and they invited several companies to attend. That was to do with succession, and what to do with a mature company where the owners were getting ready or planning to retire and how they could plan to move on. At the time, after speaking with all the parties and listening to their stories, “They recognized me as being an entrepreneur growing my business from nothing and how I’ve gone through product development of several technologies,” said King. With his crew of dedicated employees, he developed or commercialized several products.
Ernst and Young has a mandate to support entrepreneurial activities in North America, and have a large employee base world-wide. One of their programs sponsors entrepreneurial activities. That meeting in Lloydminster is when the seed of the idea was planted that Grit Industries and Wayne King would be a good fit for their Entrepreneur of the Year award.
King thought so too, and when invited to apply, he readily accepted the honour. This is not something he was expecting, but when Ernst and Young came calling on his door, there was no way he could or would, refuse them, the honour being of that high a calibre.
Rob Jolley, EY’s Prairies Entrepreneur Of The Year program director was asked, “What has impressed you and the judges most about King’s performance and track record?”
“Innovation is everything in today’s business world. That’s what really stood out about Wayne King and Grit Industries – his desire to keep pushing the envelope to develop new technologies to better the oil and gas industry,” he said. That’s no small feat. When the judges look at nominations, they look at more than just the financials. They’re looking at vision, leadership, community engagement, personal integrity and influence. These are the qualities that really make an entrepreneur stand out amid the competition.”
Anyone who knows King knows why he is in the business he is in, and it certainly isn’t for the glory. He, himself, will tell you, “I’m in this business to make a difference in this world. I’m in this business to develop ideas and develop technology and try to make our industry a better, safer, more efficient activity.”
Jolley sees a bright future for King and Grit Industries. “Entrepreneur Of The Year is a program that recognizes the success of our country’s best and brightest entrepreneurs. It’s our way of honouring their hard work and contributions to the Canadian economy. These entrepreneurs are already successful. What the program does is shine the light on their achievements and give these entrepreneurs access to a network of likeminded business leaders. Wayne King of Grit Industries undoubtedly has a bright future ahead.”
At the end of the work day, King sees himself as just a worker, “I enjoy working, that’s what I do.” When it comes to this award, he was happy to say, “I am quite honoured to be recognized for my work. The reasoning behind the why he likes to work is simple, yet complex.
Hoping that his work is recognized by his industry and his peers is what drives him on, and he wants his grandchildren to be proud of their grandpa. “I hope to make a difference,” explained King as his underlying motive behind his love of his work.
The industry is always improving, individually and as a whole.
“They are trying to improve their methods of production, they are trying to improve their drilling, well completion ... and so on,” said King.
It is not only physical safety that is improving, but also environmental safety and operational safety. It is King’s belief, “We are doing a great job of it, but we can always do better.”
That is why there is always something on the drawing board for new and innovative products or methods. It is the kind of challenge that keeps King going to work every day with a smile on his face.
This award does not mean it is the end of a journey, because he looks back to his dad planting his last crop at 83 years of age. This award means he is on the right track and has at least another couple of decades to surpass his dad’s productive years.
When classifying himself as a worker, he backs that statement with facts, such as working 12- hour days with his last vacation being seven days in 2009.
“That is because I enjoy my work. I enjoy my employees and what they bring to the company. The different ideas and thoughts that they have is very important to me,” said King.
“I like to be here in the morning to meet them when they come to work, and I like to be here in the afternoon when they all come in from the field and go home. That’s my life.”
Very pleased with his company from its start right up to date, “And we are not done yet. We’ve got several projects on the go all the time,” said an enthused King. “I am working in the light oil industry now on a couple of projects – rail car transport, compressed natural gas…(and more), and I am going to work until I get these projects completed.”
Getting past the first round of the Entrepreneur of the Year was to be nominated. Round 2, the current stage, he attended a social in Edmonton that Ernst and Young put on. It was then King worked his way into the finals. Round 3 will be to attend an event in Calgary in October, with finalists from all of western Canada in attendance.
The winners of all the categories are chosen at this function, and from there, the winners go on to the Canadian finals and then the North American Finals.
The question on all the competitors’ lips is, “What does he get if he wins in his category? Overall?”
“Category winners, and our overall 2014 Prairies Entrepreneur Of The Year winner, will be announced at our regional gala on 16 October in Calgary,” said Jolley “Our regional winner will then go on to compete against overall winners from our Pacific, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions. Our Canadian winner will be announced at our national gala on Nov. 25 in Toronto. The Canadian winner will then compete against winners from around the world at our World Entrepreneur Of The Year gala, held in Monte Carlo, every June. Alan Ulsifer of FYidoctors was the last Prairies winner who went on to the world program. It’s exciting for us to see such fantastic talent representing the country – and the Prairies.”